The GOP and Its Wrongly Crowned Kings

If you see a spade, call it a spade. David Brooks does. The money graph:

Over the years, I have asked many politicians what happens when Limbaugh and his colleagues attack. The story is always the same. Hundreds of calls come in. The receptionists are miserable. But the numbers back home do not move. There is no effect on the favorability rating or the re-election prospects. In the media world, he is a giant. In the real world, he’s not.

But why do so many Republican/conservative politicians and pundits pray at the feet of the unholy trinity Limbaugh, Hannity, and Beck? Because, according to Brooks, they “confuse listeners with voters.”

They also confuse book buyers with voters, as is clear in this commentator’s broadside against another moderate Republican named David:

… conservative books are selling like hot cakes. Mark Levin’s Liberty and Tyranny, Michelle Malkin’s Culture of Corruption, and Glenn Beck’s Common Sense are best-sellers because Americans long for authentic conservative voices at a time when leftists have taken over the U.S. government.

It’s the same old, tired, flawed argument. Those who push it conveniently forget that, nationwide, it takes a few million listeners or book buyers to turn a show or tome into a megahit/bestseller. In contrast, it (typically) takes tens (upon tens) of millions to put a President in the White House.

The lesson? Back to Mr. Brooks:

The [GOP] is losing because it has adopted a radio entertainer’s niche-building strategy, while abandoning the politician’s coalition-building strategy.

Reagan understood this. His self-proclaimed disciples apparently don’t.

Author: PETE ABEL

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18 Comments

  1. Reagan didn't understand jack. Reagan was before all this talk radio crap. Reagan was a Hollywood jackass that had no clue, completely manipulated by corporate interest. Reagan left Office as California governor leaving the State two billion dollars in debt. Jerry Brown Jr. left leaving the state two billion dollars in surplus. Bankrupting government is exactly what corporations want and they use their Republican puppets to accomplish it for them.

    It's about convincing the poorly educated masses to vote against their self interests.

  2. To disagree with Reagan's policies, no problem. To disparage him personally doesn't sit so well.

    Reagan, love him or hate him, was a game changer. After nearly a half century of liberal dominated government, he single-handedly changed the focus of the national discourse from liberal assumptive thinking to conservative assumptive thinking. That is a Herculean accomplishment whatever one thinks of his specific policy decisions.

    As the piece points out, Reagan did not accomplish his great feat of changing the premise of the national discussion through niche marketing or boisterous outrageousness. Rather he used a soft spoken style, complimented by a smile, to build a coalition of conservatives, moderate Republicans and “Reagan Democrats” that dominated American political thinking for most of a generation.

  3. There is no effect on the favorability rating or the re-election prospects. In the media world, he is a giant. In the real world, he’s not.

    In other words, no matter how much the ditto heads like him, and no matter how much his critics hate him, there really is no difference. Of course that doesn't change the amount of criticism and praise he gets, people still waste time on him praising and criticizing. LOL.

  4. The losers stoop ever lower to attack the righty talkers, and Limbaugh and his coattail-riders laugh all the way to the bank. Not a bad deal.

  5. Meanwhile some in the GOP are taking action:

    John McCain's mission: A GOP makeover
    http://www.politico.com/news/stories/1009/27832

    “I think he’s endorsed people with center-right politics because he has an understanding that the party is in trouble with certain demographics and wants to have a tone that would allow us to grow,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham, the South Carolina Republican who is McCain’s closest friend and ally in the Senate.

    “At a time when our party is struggling and has a lot of shrill voices and aggressive voices, he’s one that can expand our party,” said John Weaver, a longtime McCain friend and strategist.

  6. –[he single-handedly changed the focus of the national discourse from liberal assumptive thinking to conservative assumptive thinking]–

    …and the nation has gone down hill ever since! You have to hold people accountable for abject failure.

    On top of that, he destroyed Social Security for how many future millions? All because his personal philosophy was that HE paid to much tax and had no empathy what-so-ever for those less fortunate especially those that served in wars that HE NEVER served in?? The self righteous tight wad jerk.

    We won’t mention those that died of exposure because the greedy fool closed all the mental health hospitals in California as governor. Selling the hospital in Modesto California to Gallo Wine for ONE DOLLAR. Which they used as slum housing for Mexican migrant grape cutters.

    No he PERSONALLY deserves disparaging. You people really need to back in time with Father Time to get the goods on Ronnie Ray-Gun.

  7. There are two issues here. One being that currently Republican politicians do bow down to these talk show entertainers. Second, even if this behavior were to change, they still have to fight the perception that Republicans bow down to these guys. This will be difficult to do considering that It is advantagous for Dems to link Reps to these figureheads. They are also controversial figures which will give them constant MSM play.

  8. McCain, already the change that Obama promised to be. The man had a 20+ year track record of being a bi-partisan leader that didn't bow down to his party. People choose the guy with a 2 year record as candidate for the Dem nomination for President.

  9. McCain did not run as that man in 2008 which is why I did not vote for him though I wanted badly for him to win the nom in 2000. Sadly it was due to having to keep his base on board but I was still unsure where the real McCain stood anymore. I am very glad to see his new focus though and have high hopes for his ability to change the course of what otherwise may be a long march in the wilderness for the Repubs. Maybe I will be a moderate again sooner than I thought!

  10. No, sorry tidbits, I can't let that pass. It's so easy to forget. Reagan betrayed America. He is a self-confessed traitor who admitted that he sold weapons to our enemy, Iran. He did so LONG after Iran had threatened to destroy America “the great Satan” and he did so KNOWING that Iran was a threat to Israel. He was a traitor.

    He was a traitor to Republicans and to future generations. He took a tiny national debt and with “voodoo economics” (GHW Bush's term), he initiated the Republican “borrow and spend” policies, destroying the former “fiscal conservative” party and making it fiscally FAR worse than the “tax and spend Democrats”. He, Bush and Bush saddled us with a debt that requires $237 a month for every taxpayer just to pay interest. Look at your federal tax bill and subtract $2488 from it. That is your annual REAGANOMICS tax increase. It will last forEVER, because paying that for eternity does exactly ZERO to reduce the national debt. It's just the interest.

    Reagan betrayed us all.

  11. “McCain did not run as that man in 2008 which is why I did not vote for him though I wanted badly for him to win the nom in 2000″

    Had you put a lot more thought into that opinion, I think you would have understood what McCain was doing and why. How people could simply dismiss a 20+ year track record over campaign rhetoric is beyond me. McCain was obviously pretending to be someone he wasn't…they all do…they all lie. He had to be more to the right in order to get the right show up and vote. My goodness, Obama lied about changing NAFTA and about an Iraq war time table….they all lie.

    You can't believe politicians. They are all professional liars. All you have as a reference to their future behavior is their track record. If they have no track record…then all you have are their words…those pretty pretty words. “I'll vote for the guy that talks pretty”

    Ok, enough of that…McCain lost…dead end subject ;)

  12. Well, GD, the name Reagan certainly does bring out strong opinions. If you read my earlier comment, the gist of it was that he changed the national discussion from liberal based assumtions to conservative based assumptions. I believe he did that. What I did not say is anything about specific policies like Reaganomics or Iran-Contra. I doubt that he will go down in history as a traitor as you and FT suggest or might like to see.

  13. Thank you for insulting my intelligence by assuming I voted for Obama because of his “pretty words.” So just so you know I backed Ron Paul because of his long record and the way he ran his campaign. I then moved to Obama when Ron Paul was ignored regardless of his fundraising prowess because he was a constitutional lawyer and those people tend to take that whole constitution thing pretty seriously. McCain's problem was also not just how he ran it was how he acted from 2003 or so until 2008 while he was attempting to get his party to allow him the nomination. So forgive me if I no longer knew who he was, under Clinton he seemed sane, under Bush he seemed the sanest of the insane but I had a choice to make and “pretty words” had not one damn thing to do with it. Of course if his base would have stuck behind him and not looked like they were going to abandon him when he moved to the middle things may have been different. If he had chosen a non-identity politics VP choice I also may have reconsidered but once he chose Palin the die was cast. If he would have offered something different than more trickle down economics that got us here and tax cuts that seem to be the only trick the repub one trick pony knows things may have been different. So I put thought into my decision but I will avoid insulting yours.

  14. I guess history is still being written, but an honest look at what IS written shows that Reagan shamed America:

    “In 1986, a scandal shook the administration stemming from the use of proceeds from covert arms sales to Iran to fund the Contras in Nicaragua, which had been specifically outlawed by an act of Congress.[166] The Iran-Contra affair became the largest political scandal in the United States during the 1980s.[167] The International Court of Justice, whose jurisdiction to decide the case was disputed,[168] ruled that the U.S. had violated international law in Nicaragua due to its obligations not to intervene in the affairs of other states.[169]

    President Reagan professed ignorance of the plot's existence. He appointed two Republicans and one Democrat (John Tower, Brent Scowcroft and Edmund Muskie, known as the “Tower Commission”) to investigate the scandal. The commission could not find direct evidence that Reagan had prior knowledge of the program, but criticized him heavily for his disengagement from managing his staff, making the diversion of funds possible.[170] A separate report by Congress concluded that “If the president did not know what his national security advisers were doing, he should have.”[170] Reagan's popularity declined from 67 percent to 46 percent in less than a week, the greatest and quickest decline ever for a president.[171] The scandal resulted in fourteen indictments within Reagan's staff, and eleven convictions.[172]

    Many Central Americans criticize Reagan for his support of the Contras, calling him an anti-communist zealot, blinded to human rights abuses, while others say he “saved Central America.”[173] Daniel Ortega, Sandinistan and current president of Nicaragua, said that he hoped God would forgive Reagan for his “dirty war against Nicaragua.”[173] In 1986 the USA was found guilty by the International Court of Justice (World Court) of war crimes against Nicaragua.”

    With respect to Reaganomics, economists agree that Reagan's deficits and debt were the reason Bush the first famously had to renege on his promise of “no new taxes.” Reagan was not what I would consider a conservative, or at least what I believed it to mean at the time: fiscal conservativism, pay as you go, states rights, individual rights, smaller government, strong defense. The latter is the only principle he honored, but that is thoroughly stained by the fact that for the first time ever (but thanks to Bush II not likely the last) the United States was convicted of war crimes by the world court.

  15. GD -

    I understand your perspective, but you are trying to convince the wrong person. You see, for me this is personal, not political. Prior to her untimely death, I had a years long friendship with a wonderful and brilliant woman by the name of Maureen Reagan. In honor of her memory, I will never speak ill of her father.

    tidbits

  16. I'm with TB. While I never knew one of Reagan's children, I think he did a lot of good for this country, much more so than the liberal chattering class will ever admit.

  17. Fine. I don't need to convince either of you. For others, more thoughtful than sentimental, there's a deep lesson here. In making his deal with Iran, with Ayatollah Khoumeini, Ronald Reagan decided that Jimmy Carter was a greater threat than a militant and fully armed Iran. That is the point at which blind adherence to ideology overrules rational thought and threatens our nation. Now, ironically, conservatives hold a torch and light a candle for a confessed traitor, just as candles are still lit for Chairman Mao. A cult of personality that persists to this day. Mao, Castro, Reagan. Revered no matter what they do to their countries.

    So today, forgive me if I have no fear of the Iran that Ronald Reagan armed. He thought they were less of a threat than a Democrat in the White House.

  18. I hate Reagan not because of what he did but because of his legend that does not match how he ran this country. I agree that he was even needed to de-regulate an overly regulated country, of course I also think we now need 21st century regulation and I think Obama is the guy to do that. BUT I do hate that he gave nukes to Pakistan(that is and has been an issue for us) and that he made deals with enemies of our nation by giving them arms for hostages(the Iranians) and for cutting taxes without cutting spending which I can find no word to describe short of childish but is known as the great warrior and protector, its a joke. Having said that and even though I think Carter has been maligned incorrectly by history and Reagan adored just as incorrectly our nation needed the shift for its health. I also think in 20 years I will be telling people much the same about Bush and Obama, Obama was not all that great and Bush was not all that bad. Not because how I felt at the time but because their policies are close in many ways and those that differ have more to do with a shift in generational policy that was needed and less to do with being bad evil or good. I cant say I would have voted for Reagan even knowing he would benefit us due to his negatives but I will say with a bit of horror that I am happy that he won that election just as I am happy that FDR and Obama won theirs.

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